Airsoft Consumer Rights
Naivety – a lot of people confuse this with the trust in the good nature of mankind. However when you introduce currency and the desire for lots of it in a capitalist society, some people may overlook a few potential issues of consumer security.
The internet acts as a global marketplace; not only for brand new goods but second hand ones too – when you pay for an advertised good delivered to your place of choice, you expect it to firstly, arrive and secondly, be without any problems. Is this naïve of you? Not at all but we don’t live in a world full of honest people whose only ambition is to be perfect in everyway by your eyes.
I’m trying my upmost not to start teaching people how to suck eggs here but I have seen issues time and time again with retailers and individuals when it comes to buying our loved Airsoft goodies. I suppose the following can be applied to any retail operation or individual buying/selling trade but without further ado; here are a few tips to make sure you don’t get screwed over through inaction or action. For the rest of the article we will assume that you are the consumer and the other party is indeed the seller or the retailer.
Straight in there – If you buy anything from a retailer in the UK you are covered quite well by the law. Individuals (the self-employed sole trader) can still be classed as a retailer – if they often sell items to people, ipso facto they are a retailer whether they like it or not. Even if they conceive custom creations that you then buy; it’s a product and they are retailers. Selling your second hand goods occasionally does not make you a retailer and so you are exempt from many of the laws that protect you as a consumer. There is middle ground here but if you are diligent in your buying efforts you will be able to protect yourself.
Back to buying from a retailer in the UK – forget warranties. They are required by law but in some cases they are worthless. What you need to focus your attention on is the Sales of Goods Act 1979. Yeah, it’s been around for that long and its requirements for retailers and products sold within the UK are extensive and are there to protect you, the consumer. Remember that the Sales of Goods Act overrides any warranty, guarantee or policy. A few points to help summarise the act and help you along the way.
- All goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. Fit for purpose means fit for its designed use and also any specific purpose that you discussed with the seller prior to purchase.
- If you buy a good that turns out to be immediately (or at least fairly quickly) faulty you have the legal right to reject it and get a refund. However the law requires that you do this within a reasonable period of time – what’s reasonable depends on the product and how obvious the fault is (remember faults can take time to develop through manufacturing issues). However you should always assume that a reasonable amount of time is one to four weeks after purchase.
- Outside of this time period you have the right to either a replacement or repair. Under the Sales of Goods Act the retailer must either repair or replace the faulty good ‘within a reasonable time but without causing significant inconvenience’. If the seller doesn’t do this you have the right to claim either, a reduction on the purchase price or your money back minus an amount for usage you’ve had on the goods which is called ‘rescission’.
- If your claim is within six months of buying the good, the retailer has to prove that the goods were as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose when they sold it – which is extremely hard for them.
- Beyond six months it is up to you to prove that the fault was there or has developed since even if it has taken up till now to become apparent. This means you may need to prove that the fault is not down to normal wear and tear or damage you caused and that the product or a component of the product should have lasted longer than it did. Generally you will need an expert such as a trusted third party tech (in the case of a RIF) to confirm and back up your claim. It is up to you and the seller to come to an agreement on the said expert and the associated costs – if you allow the retailer to use their own tech you may as well roll over.
- If a product is designed to be platform of which allows interchangeable parts, installing different parts or ‘performance’ parts does not exclude you from the Sales of Goods Act. To clarify; the vast majority of airsoft guns are designed to allow a user to change, replace and upgrade parts. A good example of what isn’t a platform that allows interchangeable parts is a mobile phone. This is a big one that retailers don’t want you to know because it opens a can of worms for them. It will invalidate your warranty but if your product still suffers from an unrelated fault then it does not change the proceedings other than the fact you may need to prove that your modification is unrelated.
So that’s the basics but what about buying from an individual? My best advice is treating it like a business deal. If you have no experience of business to business then all you need to know is that people treat each other as if trust is irrelevant because ‘trust’ implies there is risk. Cover your ass, make written (email is fine) agreements that you both agree to or simply use PayPal and have the seller send you an invoice with a detailed listing of what it is that the seller is selling. If the item longevity seems questionable, simply ask the seller to state its current condition and describe any past and possible future issues that may arise.
For the love of all that is holy – do not send ‘gift’ payments through PayPal to people. The seller fee is there for a reason; it provides a contractual agreement that the seller must provide the goods as described. If they don’t PayPal will refund you and take up further action with the seller themselves. It really is as simple as that! If you don’t stick to those rules then prepare to lose your money. If the seller tries to persuade you differently you know that they aren’t genuine on should be given a wide birth.
In no way is this article exhaustive but all of the above is worth knowing if you don’t already – feel free to discuss your stories and ask your questions below it may very well help someone else in a similar situation!